The pen is mightier than the sword, everyone knows that. But when a pen runs out of ink, its power diminishes—or does it? The rigid, cylindrical shape of these writing instruments, not to mention their ubiquity—it seems like there is a handful of ballpoints stashed in a drawer in every home—means they are perfect for a range of purposes around the house and yard. Scroll down to see five favorite DIY uses for pens that, even though they no longer write, should not be written off.
1. ASSEMBLE A LAMPSHADE
For pens with no ink, there’s a lamp at the end of the tunnel. To make one like this sample from the Spanish design firm En Pieza, find either a plastic or pliable metal band and size it to fit the lamp of your choice. Then use either glue or wire to attach a few packages’ worth of empty pens to your chosen frame.
2. BUILD A SEWING CADDY
Tangle-proof your adventures in sewing with a portable thread organizer. Start with a tiered block of wood (or three one-inch-thick pieces stacked like stairs). Next, drill holes to accommodate as many spools as you plan to store. Finish by staking pens into the holes you have drilled. Curbly provides the easy step-by-step guide.
3. CONSTRUCT A SPRINKLER
Here’s a clever way to make the cheapest sprinkler you’ll ever own. After securing a connection between your garden hose and a plastic bottle cap, drill about a dozen holes into the container. Next, cut hollowed-out pens two inches from their tips. Slot the pens into the holes, then watch as water flows where ink once ran!
4. CREATE A STYLUS
Turn a low-tech pen into a touchpad stylus! First, completely hollow out the pen, then wrap copper wire around a small piece of conductive foam. Thread the wire through the pen, forcing the foam to fit snugly through its point. Finish by coiling the remaining wire around the outside of the pen so that you can grip it during use.
5. MAKE A MEMORY
When it’s time to head home after vacation, you can’t fit the beach in your carry-on, but you can try the next best thing: memorializing your handprints in the sand. Make a handprint, fill the indentation with plaster of Paris, then set a pen into the plaster, toward the base of the palm. Once dry, the pen hole makes it possible for you to hang the mold around a doorknob or on your holiday tree!